MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences - Great Ideas Change the World

21st Century Citizenship
Resources for understanding and engagement

In times of change it is important that our community remain connected and energized — dedicated to discovery, respect, and kindness, and open to excellence from everywhere in the world. As President Reif has emphasized, the values that unite us at MIT are enduring.

By staying strong in our community values, we will continue to do what we at MIT do best: increasing knowledge and solving challenges to make a better world. And now more than ever it is important that we address these challenges with a deep understanding of their political, economic, and cultural dimensions.

To that end, MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences draws on the expertise of its faculty and colleagues across the Institute to sponsor events and publications aimed at giving the members of our community resources for understanding political, economic, and cultural realities — at home and around the world — and for serving as engaged citizens. Take a look!


                                              Gallery of Resources, Publications, and Events

Mens et Manus America event with Jason Jay

How to have productive conversations in a polarized world More

Mens et Manus America examines the politics of misinformation

Exploring current U.S. social, political, and economic challenges: Professor Adam J. Berinsky joined Professor Ezra Zuckerman Sivan to share political science and sociological research about the impact of rumors and falsehoods on America's political process. Agustín Rayo, associate dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences moderated. More

Podcast: Michael Lee "The Conservative Canon Before and After Trump"

In this April 28 CMS/W podcast, Michael J. Lee charts the vital role of canonical post–World War II (1945–1964) books in generating, guiding, and sustaining conservatism as a political force in the United States. More


3 Questions: Political theorist John Tirman on immigration and identity, and measuring the true costs of war

"It is remarkable that we do not measure the costs of war in any meaningful way. The costs come in many shapes and sizes: mortality and disability, loss of livelihoods and homes, displacement, the destruction of clean water resources and sanitation facilities, the disruption of education for children, ecological devastation, and many others. All wars produce these results, yet no country, including the United States, has the will to understand and calculate these costs." More

MIT Day of Action | Events with SHASS community

On Tuesday, April 18, members of MIT and the broader local community will pause our everyday activities and devote the day to engaging with the political, economic, and social challenges facing the nation and the world today. Join us for the following sessions led by members of the MIT SHASS community. Also see the full list of the day’s activities.

Starr Forum Brexit, Europe, and Trump: John Whitaker "Jack" Straw, Former Foreign Secretary, U.K.

Video of a Starr Forum panel discussion held on April 6, 2017, sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies More

Senator Sanders Addresses MIT: Presidential Election and the Political Process

In MIT speech, Bernie Sanders contends future of U.S. politics "must be progressive." More

At MIT, Arlie Hochschild discusses U.S. political divisions and three pillars of action for finding common ground

This Mens et Manus America event centered on Hochschild's most recent book, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (The New Press, September 2016). More

No Walls: The making of a socio-political statement in music

Commentary by Mark Sumner Harvey More

Samuel Rodarte Jr. in front of U.S. Capitol building

Shaping Public Policy in the Nation's Capital

With an MIT degree in both humanities and engineering fields, and a social science minor, Samuel Rodarte '13 could have found a top job in almost any enterprise from startup to multinational corporation. Instead, he chose to join generations of alumni who have put their MIT skills to work shaping public policy in Washington, D.C. More

Mens et Manus America Initiative | Portal 

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, it is clear that there are major long-term social, political, and economic issues in America that require close attention. The non-partisan Mens et Manus America initiative will convene a series of research-informed lectures to address these challenges over the course of the Spring 2017 term. Initiative sponsored by the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the Sloan School of Management, with support from faculty, staff, and students. More

Starr Forum Racing to the Precipice: Global Climate, Political Climate

Video of a Starr Forum panel discussion held on March 23, 2017, sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies More

Election Insights 2016: John Tirman on Immigration and Terrorism

"Negative attitudes toward immigrants have many roots. The economy and 'job stealing' have often ranked high on the list of grievances, but several studies — including one just released by the National Academy of Sciences — demonstrate that immigrants of all kinds boost the U.S. economy overall and hurt few if any native-born Americans. So, what really mobilizes anti-immigrant attitudes?" More

The world as we think the world should be | Meet theater director Charlotte Brathwaite

In the two years since she joined the MIT’s faculty, Charlotte Brathwaite says she has seen much commonality between theater arts and the work of engineering and science. "The process of creating — imagining something that doesn't exist, whether that is a cure for something or a startup — in theater we do that too. We imagine the impossible and try to make that possible," says Brathwaite. More

Podcast: From Stereopticon to Telephone: The Selling of the President in the Gilded Age

Charles Musser: “19th century media forms set in motion not only a new way of imagining how to market national campaigns and candidates; they also helped to usher in novel forms of mass spectatorship.” More

Uniting through Voice and Song

On the evening of November 17, 2016 faculty, staff, and students came together to affirm the enduring values that unite the MIT community. More

Election Insights 2016
12 research-based perspectives from MIT

The 2016 presidential election brought to the fore a number of political, economic, and cultural issues that scholars in the MIT School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (MIT SHASS) think about deeply as part of their ongoing research. Here, 12 faculty members offer their perspectives on topics ranging from economic security to gender bias to the state of the U.S. electoral system itself. Follow links in each section for further discussion. More

Mens et Manus America initiative launches with documentary film event

200 students and faculty attend kickoff event as SHASS and Sloan begin a non-partisan, research-based exploration of current U.S. social, political, economic challenges. More

Christine Walley and Chris Boebel on the Exit Zero Project

The Exit Zero Project, founded by Christine Walley and Chris Boebel, is a transmedia effort to tell the story of the traumatic effect of deindustrialization on Southeast Chicago. The three components of the project — book, documentary film, and in-progress interactive website — use family stories from the once-thriving steel mill communities of Southeast Chicago to consider the enduring impact of the loss of heavy industry and its role in widening class inequalities in the United States. More

Starr Forum | The Fight Over Foreigners: Visas and Immigration in the Trump Era

Video of a Starr Forum panel discussion held on February 28, 2017, sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies More

Election Insights 2016: David Autor on Jobs and Economic Security  

"The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), enacted in 1975 and enlarged by both Republican and Democratic administrations, is among the nation’s most significant tools for reducing poverty and encouraging people to enter the workforce. One of the most promising policies for assisting non-college workers is expanding the EITC to cover childless workers and non-custodial parents." More

The Power of Perceptions

Study shows how information sources affect voters More

Starr Forum | Trump’s Victory: What does it mean for you? 

Video of a Starr Forum panel discussion held on Feb 28, 2017, sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies More

Starr Forum | Racism, Violence, and Democracy

Video of a panel discussion on November 16, 2016,​ sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies More

Communications Forum | Race and Racism in the 2016 Election

Slate chief political correspondent Jamelle Bouie joins MIT’s Seth Mnookin to explore how race and ethnicity framed the election. More

Dissolve Inequality: A Visual Arts Summit

A book launch & panel discussion: How can visual art transform our understanding of protest, value, and change? More

Election Insights 2016: Elizabeth Wood on the Putinization of Politics

"The casualty of the 'Putinization' of American elections is the creation of a Reality TV style of campaigning based on machismo, a loss of authenticity, and a failure to acknowledge the importance of institutions, laws, and solid economic policies designed to increase the general welfare of the nation." More

MIT launches Election Data and Science Lab

The lab is dedicated to improving elections, using research, evidence, and analysis. Founded by Charles Stewart III, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science, the Lab will address multiple audiences of academic researchers, election practitioners, and the general public. It will serve a unique and independent role as it applies scientific principles to empirical questions about the administration of American elections.  More

Starr Forum | Security, Privacy, & the Internet

Video of a Starr Forum panel event held on November 30, 2016, sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies More

Screening of the film "13th"

America makes up 5% of the world's population, yet locks up 25% of the world's prisoners. Ava DuVernay's acclaimed film "13th" explores how we got here. Screening sponsored by MIT SHASS Program in Women and Gender Studies More

A new fight with old battle lines

Book explores what France’s LGBTQ rights battle says about identity and belonging. More

Communications Forum | An Evening with John Hodgman

Humorist John Hodgman and MIT’s Seth Mnookin discussed the aftermath of the 2016 election and where to go from here. More

How healthy is the U.S. voting system?

Professor Charles Stewart III explains why the U.S. electoral system is strong and how MIT research is making the voting process even more seamless. This fall Stewart is leading a nationwide research project: on Election Day 2016, some 800 students from more than 25 universities, including MIT, will be collecting data at polling places across the country, as part of the "Polling Place of the Future" project to help further improve the nation's electoral process. More

Starr Forum | The Struggle Against Terrorism: Lessons Learned and Next Steps

Video of a Starr Forum panel discussion held on on November 22, 2015, sponsored by the MIT SHASS Center for International Studies. More

J-PAL and MIT Economics launch D2P2 Lecture Series

With their “D2P2: Data. Decisions. Public Policy.” lecture series, J-PAL and MIT Economics aim to increase awareness of their work on campus and in Greater Boston. More

Communications Forum | Being Muslim in America and MIT

MIT alum and students explored how discriminatory rhetoric influences public opinion and its impact on the daily lives of Muslim-Americans. More